August 02, 2014 Report by John Robles
After a long conversation with Ely Goldin I wrote up this report.
Roman Seleznev, renditioned from the Maldives to Guam by US agents, will most likely be sent to the United States to face charges of cyber fraud in a case that has dangerous implications in that the impunity with which the US kidnaps suspects of any country anywhere in the world will be allowed to stand.
The fact that the hearing determining whether the US acted within the law in kidnapping Mr. Seleznev was held in a US Court raises serious questions as to the impartiality of the decisions, again underlining the double-standards which seem to be the foundation of US foreign policy and it actions with regard to international law.
In a telephone conversation with Rossiya Sevodnya correspondent John Robles, Roman Seleznev’s US based lawyer Ely Goldin gave Rossiya Sevodnyat the latest update on the case, revealing that the removal hearing and the eventual transportation of Roman Seleznev to the United States will take place very soon.
According to Mr. Goldin after a day-long hearing in the US Federal Court in Guam Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood denied the motion to terminate the prosecution on the grounds of “Outrageous Government Conduct” that shocks the conscience of the court.
The judge stated that the court in Guam has limited jurisdiction in the case and can only decide on the validity of the indictment out of the Federal Court in Seattle Washington and on whether the Roman Seleznev appearing in her court is the same Roman Seleznev as in the indictment.
According to Ely Goldin the US based lawyer for Seleznev Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood stated that Mr. Seleznev would be free to pursue litigation and file complaints in the US Federal Court in Seattle, Washington. She stated that the court in Guam was just a “waypoint” and its authority was limited and circumspect.
Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood stated that given prior decisions in US Appelate Courts and in the Supreme Court wholesale kidnapping and even torture do not deny a court jurisdiction and in fact are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that the person appears in front of the court.
According to lawyer Ely Goldin the last step before a removal hearing has already been carried out. This step was an informal identity hearing where Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood determined that the “minimal burden” of proof had been met to continue the prosecution and removal of Mr. Seleznev. In meeting a “minimal burden”, in effect, the government merely has to state the name.
As Mr. Seleznev’s name is the same on the indictment according to US federal law, this is enough to arrest and prosecute him. Therefore in practice any person in the world with the name Roman Seleznev can be renditioned and forced to appear in front of a US court and it does not matter how that person was forced to appear in the court or even if the person is a citizen of the United States or was captured in a country without relevant treaties for extradition.
Lawyer Ely Goldin said the next step will be the removal hearing but that the court has not yet set a date. However this will occur in the very near future.
Interview With Witness on the defunct Voice of Russia
Hello, this is John Robles. I am speaking with a source at Male airport in the Maldives, who witnessed the detention of Roman Seleznev. The speaker's name has been kept anonymous for his own safety.
Robles: Hello, sir, thank you for agreeing to speak with me in the middle of the night, I really appreciate it. You witnessed the detention of Mr. Seleznev, can you tell us what you saw?
Source: What I saw was while they were at the departure hall: there was one of my friends, who was accompanying the three of them, one was a man, there was a little daughter and there was a woman.
Clearly, there were two white guys who were having a conversation with him. The other guy, he did not resist anything. I was a bit far away, but I saw him being cuffed by the two Americans (as we later found out).
And I thought it was a normal Interpol operation which we often see in Male airport anyway, so we did not bother to check who he was, we did not bother to come near him, but after three days we realized it was not a normal arrest. It was the Americans and it was the Secret Service. I found it from the news that it was not Interpol.
Anyway, clearly, it was not local police who talked to him; it was the two white guys. I can remember one very clearly, one was wearing a green T-shirt and jeans type pants. He cuffed him.
Then we started watching the guy who was being cuffed, and he was very cool actually, very calm. What he did was he put his jacket or shirt on his wrist so that we couldn't see that he had been cuffed. He was cuffed from the departure hall and then he was walked by these two guys (two American guys), there were some local police behind him, but they were not engaging in anything, they were just behind him. And he was walked to the CIP lounge, which is the "Commercially Important People" lounge which is normally called the VIP lounge, and he was taken there in front of everybody!
There're other witnesses as well. It wasn't very secret; he was taken away in front of us. And the lady with the daughter went through the normal departure hall.
Robles: Why was he taken to the lounge and did the wife and the daughter protest or did they just go and get on the plane?
Source: They were talking, they were engaged in some conversation, but I didn't hear it.
Later I asked the guy who was the representative of Kanifushi, which is the resort he was based in, he told me, the two guys came and said: "You will come with us", or something like that. And there was no paper produced at the time of this arrest.
Robles: They didn’t produce any papers, warrants…? Nothing?
Source: Nothing, just cuffed him; that is what we saw. And why he was taken to the VIP lounge; well, the process is if they are leaving by private jets; anybody can go through that lounge. It's a private lounge, so nobody could actually see what is going on when they go through there. I later talked to the guys who were handling the flight; the guy told me that he was calm, but the two guys literally threw him onto the flight.
Robles: They threw him onto the airplane?
Source: Yes. They were very nice on the inside, but at boarding time they literally pushed him into the plane.
Robles: They physically threw him, pushed him into the plane?
So, what you are telling me is: when people could see them, they were polite and normal, but when they though no one was watching, they were very violent.
Source: I can't say violent or anything like that, but the guy who handled the flight said it wasn't nice. He said he was pushed into the plane.
Robles: His wife Anna gave a press conference and said that while these guys were in the lounge with her husband, she heard them screaming at him, and he kept saying "No! No!"
Source: There was definitely a heated conversation. I mean he physically didn't resist, but he was saying something, I could see that. Like I said, we didn't go near there; we didn't bother to check that because it is a normal sight that people are being carried away in front of us here. These arrests.
Robles: That's normally Interpol or is it Americans who do that?
Source: They were one hundred per cent Americans. That's not… It was confirmed only three days later. I even Tweeted about it the day it happened but I wanted to disregard it because I thought it was just a normal case.
Robles: I'm sorry, what I was asking is it normal for Interpol to arrest people or is it normal for Americans to arrest people there?
Source: For Interpol. Because we are working in the airport, for us an arrest is just a normal thing. Sometimes people are drunk and they have to be arrested. But in this case, it was definitely not locals, it was Americans, I mean too white guys, it was not locals.
Robles: Ok, because the news reports out of the Maldives… The Maldive authorities said that it was locals.
Source: That's not locals, that's not true. If you go through my Twitter timeline on that day you can see exactly.
Robles: Everyone who has been there has said the same thing. Does Interpol normally use local police?
Source: There are some cases that I know of which happened in 2011. Even then the president was involved in a case, but he didn't want to handle just like that, without any warrant or without any court case. But this time it is different, this time they just came, cuffed, took him.
Robles: As far as I know, in the Maldives the law is that if someone is going to be extradited they have to go through a court, right? Then they have to have a finding and after that they have to have an extradition order, right?
Source: Right! Yes! Through the news I read that they tried for the court order but the judge refused.
Robles: For Mr.Seleznev the judge refused an order?
Source: The judge refused to give an arrest warrant to police.
Robles: What did you hear? What was the reason?
Source: There was no reason, I have the article which is in local. They changed some parts yesterday, but I have a copy which I have saved locally, in which it is said he was arrested on the advice given by the Attorney General that when they put the exit stamp on his passport, they can arrest him.
Even though he is in the Maldives, if his passport is stamped "exit", they could arrest him.
Robles: Did they stamp his passport?
Source: I don't think they did in the departure hall when they were there. They could have done that in the lounge.
Robles: I see. Or they could have done it later.
Source: They could have done that, but everybody knows it is a stupid reason for an arrest.
Robles: This is also very important. You have just mentioned that they changed the story.
Source: They changed the story and they have a local version on their site. I have the original and it states that they arrested him on the advice by the Attorney General. If they put this exit stamp on his passport they could arrest him.
Robles: In the new story that is not there?
Source: That part has been cut out. Nobody gave an explanation why.
Robles: I see. Very interesting. Do you know anything about this airline?
Source: The company that handled the aircraft, I think, was SkyTours from here, locally. Normally they are the handling agents for jets.
Robles: Did you see this aircraft? Again the company is called "VistaJet"!
Source: "Vistajet" could be the parent company, but the local handling party was not Vista anything. It was SkyTours.
Robles: Did you see any other Americans or did you only see two? Did you see any people with bulletproof vests?
Source: No, nothing. They were in normal casual clothes because the Maldives is a very peaceful place and I don't think anybody would need bulletproofs and all sorts of weapons in the airport. It's really very calm.
Robles: What else have you heard that would be interesting for our listeners?
Source: The interesting part would be the part that I've told you: this arrest was done on an advice by The Attorney General and because the judge refused to issue a warrant.
And now the American counterpart is saying that the Maldives arrested him and for the past two or three days we can see from official US statements that Interpol was not mentioned, it was clearly mentioned "Secret Service", but all of a sudden day before yesterday we saw it was on Interpol's Notice.
Robles: What do you mean it was on Interpol’s notice?
Source: They said he was on Interpol’s watch list, but in none of the official statements from the US could we see any Interpol mentioned – it was clearly said Secret Service.
Robles: So, one: there was no Interpol, it was the US Secret Service; originally there was advice from the Attorney General, that was taken out of the news, right? And originally there were stories that the judge refused to issue a warrant. To whom? To the Americans or to the police?
Source: To the police, but I'm not sure. Anyway, if there was any operation, it would be the police, but the judge refused.
Robles: Let me make sure I have this correct: the Americans wanted to arrest Mr. Seleznev and therefore, asked the judge for a warrant, or the police asked the judge for a warrant. But the judge refused to issue the warrant against Mr. Seleznev. Then, on the advice of the attorney general the Americans kidnapped Mr. Seleznev as long as he had an exit stamp in his passport: it was ok to do that?
Source: Yes, that is what we learnt from the news. That part has been cut out.
Robles: Is there anything else you can tell us?
Source: It's basically it, because it didn't take much time. It took maximum five minutes from the departure hall to the VIP longue.
Robles: Were his wife and his daughter detained or harrassed or pushed around in any way?
Source: No, nothing of that sort. They immediately separated his family and took him away with them after handcuffing him.
Robles: So, he didn't have a chance to say goodbye to his wife or talk to her?
Source: After they cuffed him, we got out of the departure hall. Then again we saw him been walked in front of us to the arrival hall.
Robles: Is it normal when they arrest people to take them to this CIP "VIP" lounge?
Source: No, it's not normal. They would be taken out from some other entrance.
Robles: So, it was very unusual that he was taken through the VIP lounge.
Source: Yes, we were talking about it because there were so many people in the arrival hall, and they saw that he was cuffed and was being walked from the departure hall through the arrival to the VIP-lounge. When we started watching him, he put his jacket or coat on his wrist.
Robles: He did it himself?
Robles: What do you mean "he was walked"? Was he forced?
Source: He was, obviously, cuffed, the other two on both sides.
Robles: Did they have guns?
Source: Not visibly.
Robles: Is it possible, that they were pointing a gun at him?
Robles: Okay. Thank you, I really appreciate this.
This is John Robles, I am speaking with an anonymous source at Male airport in the Maldives, who witnessed the detention of Roman Seleznev. The speaker’s name has been kept anonymous for his own safety.
My original report on the now defunct Voice of Russia exposing CIA rendition airline VISTA JET
Roman Seleznev's common law wife Anna Otisko, who was with him at the airport when he was detained, described Roman's captors during an emotional press conference she gave to Russian media along with Roman’s father, Russian MP Valery Seleznev. She described how American CIA agents arrested and interrogated Roman. She said that the agents were clearly not from among the local population as they were Caucasian and spoke in clear American English. With tears in her eyes she described how she could hear the agents aggressively questioning Roman and how he repeatedly replied "No! No!" to their questions.
Other witnesses also report that a team of American agents was seen whisking Mr. Seleznev away to an awaiting private aircraft and treating him in a very aggressive and forceful manner. Witness statements contradict the official statements coming out of the Maldives that it was a completely local operation and that police were lawfully carrying out an Interpol red notice warrant. Given that local laws that require such suspects to be allowed a hearing in a court before extradition after which a proper order must be handed down were completely ignored, the case is completely identical of the detentions of Victor Bout and Constantin Yaroshenko.
CIA flight exposed
As with all CIA rendition operations the devil is in the details, and although the CIA always attempts to keep their infrastructure secret there are always clues left behind that an alert investigator can use to cross the "T"s and dot the "I"s, the rendition of Mr. Seleznev being no exception.
Mr. Seleznev was supposed to have taken TransAero flight UN 510 departing from Male International Airport in the Maldives at 11:55 to Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport but was never allowed to board that flight.
According to flight tracking information after his quick detention and questioning Mr. Seleznev was whisked away on a Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft owned by VISTA JET with flight number Vistajet 510. According to flight information the scheduled departure time was 11:00 local time but for some reason it was delayed and departed 19 minutes later. This delay was no doubt due to the unpredictable nature of the rendition, though it shows that the CIA expected the procedure to take much less time. The time also coincides with the fact that Roman would have arrived on the airport earlier to register for the flight and although his hotel could not be reached I would assume that the CIA already knew in advance when Roman would arrive by taxi to the airport. Vista Jet flight VJT510 arrived in Guam at 02:33, four minutes ahead of schedule.
After arriving in Guam the aircraft then flew to Dalian, Liaoning in the People’s Republic of China - a fact which may be unrelated but seems rather suspicious given the nature of the aircraft and the mission it had just been on. Perhaps the aircraft had legitimate clients on board, however Vista Jet refused to comment on any aspect of this story.
Under current difficult economic times when airlines continue to go belly up worldwide, Vista Jet seems to be an exception as it is flourishing, which is fully in line with the fact that the airline appears to be used by the CIA for operations such as rendition flights. Again Vista Jet refused to comment when I contacted their representatives. According to Vista Jet’s site in November of 2012 Vista Jet placed the single largest transaction in the history of business aviation by placing an order for Bombadier Global Jets worth $7.8 billion dollars.
After reading the Grand Jury Indictment handed down against Roman Seleznev it becomes clear why a Secret Grand Jury was used to target him. The United States has no evidence and is basing their persecution on the fact that the name Roman Seleznev was used by the criminals they are seeking in what can only be described as identity theft. If the date on the indictment is correct, March 16 2011, then it is also suspicious why Roman was involved in a terrorist attack shortly thereafter. If we recall Roman was one of the victims of a terrorist attack in Marrakech, Morocco on April 28th 2011, a fact that may point to a failed CIA execution attempt and might be fuel for conspiracy theorists.
The indictment covers the targets of the alleged hackers and any investigator worth his salt would probably never file charges against an individual on such contradictory circumstantial evidence. Hence the reason the Grand Jury mechanism was used. The targets of the "hacker" include small local cafes and localized targets that no international "super hacker" would go after. I would suggest the investigators look into disgruntled local residents if they are really interested in finding the perpetrators of the crimes they allege. As Roman only has basic computer knowledge it is not possible that he is the person the US seeks.
In the US Grand Juries meet in secret, their evidence is kept hidden and their findings are not subject to oversight, hence it is the ideal tool for political prosecutions with a pre-determined outcome like those of Julian Assange and other information activists. In such cases evidence is almost impossible to gather, which also explains why Roman was being pressured and kept under conditions amounting to torture as US agents attempted to force him to confess that he is the Roman Seleznev they are looking for.
Rather than admitting they have made a mistake, free the illegally detained Seleznev and apologize for conducting yet another illegal rendition, the US Government will continue to make an abomination of international law and illegally detain yet another Russian citizen for a crime he did not commit. Here we can recall Victor Bout and Constantin Yaroshenko who are locked up in American prisons for "conspiracy to commit crimes" and not for actual crimes committed.
I hope that Roman will be freed soon as he has done nothing wrong, but as with all political prosecutions the US will be highly unlikely to admit they made a mistake. As for Vista Air, they may be just an innocent organization used by the CIA and not involved in anything nefarious, but nevertheless I would fly on Aeroflot or Transaero just to be on the safe side. Given the fact that Mr. Seleznev is a Russian citizen and was taken against his will illegally from the Maldives, one might take up the issue with Vista Jet, their number is 44 207 0 605 700. For some reason they did not want to talk to me.
Please contact me if you have any information on this issue.